skip navigation

New Coach, Same High Expectations For PL Boys Lacrosse

By Tom Schardin, 04/20/24, 9:15PM CDT


The Prior Lake boys lacrosse team may be under new leadership this spring, but the same lofty expectations still exist.

Sam Kepner has taken over the program from Casey Mithun, who has moved on to the college level as an assistant coach at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. Kepner is familiar with the Lakers’ program, acting as the defensive coordinator under Mithun since 2018.

Mithun started coaching the Lakers in 2019, taking over for Chris Fleck, who led Prior Lake to its first state title in 2016 and its second one in 2018.

Mithun won a state title in his first season at the helm. There was no lacrosse season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last three seasons Prior Lake has been the state runner-up.

The Lakers fell 11-10 in overtime to Lakeville North in the state final last spring. Prior Lake lost in the title game to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in both in 2021 and 2022.

Mithun had a 60-15 overall record in his four complete seasons as head coach, including a 28-4 mark in the South Suburban Conference. He won three straight conference titles (2019, 2021, 2022).

In Section 6 tournament play, Mithun never lost a game, earning a 12-0 record with four titles. Prior Lake has won seven straight Section 6 crowns.

“We have 18 seniors on varsity with several juniors who played significant roles in last year’s deep state tournament run,” Kepner said. “The entire starting attack unit, which is one of the best across the state, is returning. They have improved in the offseason and are eager to see their investments pay off.

“This team aspires to make their own mark on the program while complimenting the tradition and success of their predecessors,” Kepner added. “They love the game, have a strong bond with each other, and are eager to play in the toughest conference and section in the state.”

Seniors Jack Tocko, CJ Sheffield and Max Anderson and junior George Tocko are back from last year. Jack Tocko led the team in points with 77 (42 goals, 35 assists), while Anderson was third in points with 55 (35 goals, 20 assists) and George Tocko was fourth (23 goals, 11 assists).

Sheffield chipped in nine goals and eight assists. Seniors Owen Meyer and Griffin Noble are also expected to have larger roles, along with junior defenders Dillon Tushie and Brady Hallberg.

“The loss of All-American Ben Mickett to graduation presents opportunities for Owen and Griffin, and others on the offensive end,” Kepner said. “The defense, inclusive of the goalie position, will be comprised of several new faces.

“The objective is to build a cohesive team that works successfully together,” Kepner added. “To do this, players and coaches need to trust each other, commit to being all-in, and hold each other accountable throughout the journey. Once achieved, this puts the team in a position to accomplish another goal which is to compete in the state tournament.”

Prior Lake finished fourth in the South Suburban Conference last year with a 4-3 mark. Shakopee won the conference with a 6-1 record.

Shakopee also won the Section 2 title last year and finished fourth at state. But the Sabers, along with Eden Prairie, were moved to Section 6 this season in section realignment, making the field that much stronger.

Other teams in Section 6 include Edina, Eastview, Holy Angels, Rosemount, Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy, Richfield and Minneapolis. Prior Lake beat Edina 11-8 for the title last spring.

Prior Lake will open the season April 20 in league play at Shakopee. The Lakers’ first home is May 2 against Eden Prairie.

The first round of Section 6 play starts May 28, followed by the quarterfinals May 30, the semifinals June 3 and the title game June 5. The higher seed is at home throughout the playoffs.

This year’s state tournament is set for June 11, 13 and 15 at Chanhassen and Eden Prairie High Schools.